Wednesday, March 5, 2014

40 Bags in 40 Days: My Lenten Promise

Today's new fresh blogging start is brought to you by 1) An abundance of stuff in a small house; 2) a strong aversion to cleaning; 3) Ash Wednesday, and 4) this quote:

You say, 'If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.' 
You make a mistake. 
If you are not content with what you have, 
you would not be satisfied if it were doubled. 
--Charles Haddon Spurgeon

I no longer attend St. Mary's Catholic Church here in Rome (though it and its people still hold a beloved place in my heart), but that is a whole other post for a whole other (post-Lenten) day. I still LOVE and enjoy the celebration of Lent and all the nuanced and specific meanings for why Catholics (and other Christians) do what they do during Lent.  My first and most profound Lenten experiences were during the spring of 2000.  I was in law school.  I was engaged.  To a Catholic.  I had been attending St. Joseph's Catholic Church.  I decided to join the Church, officially.  Not because I was converting, but because I liked how the Mass and liturgy and the Eucharist was celebrated.  Fr. John Cuddy in his inspired wisdom was able to make me feel like I belonged there, and accepted me for whatever I believed; he patiently answered all my "Why do Catholics Do That?" questions.  I was well-raised and properly churched as the granddaughter of a (decidedly academic and brilliant) Baptist minister...who, incidentally and as a random tidbit of knowledge, wrote a book on C.H. Spurgeon (quoted above) and his son titled Lamplighter & Son. In the end, I celebrated my first communion at the Easter Vigil service that year after spending 40 days of entering the Church every day, kneeling, lighting a candle, and praying and meditating on what exactly was my purpose in life.

Of course, as a young law student at the ripe old age of 22, I couldn't have known my purpose in life.  I had no idea I would represent seven time convicted felons, or that I would defend accused child molesters.  And I am confident at 36 that I still don't *exactly* know what is my purpose. (Though I am confident that part of that purpose is defending the US Constitution, and specifically the 6th and 14th Amendments...but that is another post, too.)  What I DO know is that I have a purpose.  I know that God has a plan for me.  Or many.  My purpose in this world is dictated daily by my roles on this earth as a wife, a mother, an attorney, a friend, a daughter, granddaughter, niece, neighbor, and even sometimes my purpose is to be a kind stranger.
I spent a lot of time this weekend contemplating Lent.  We no longer regularly attend Catholic Mass, and we have a new non-denominational church that we are loving:  Cornerstone Church...  However, I couldn't decide where my unconventional Christianity fit into the celebration and preparation of Lent.  I love Lent.  It's hard, it's painful, I struggle with whatever it is I have committed to do (or not do) for 40 whole days.  Yet, when Easter comes, I am so relieved.  Not because I can go back to doing whatever it was I quit, or because I don't have to keep being so frugal or doing x, y, or z every day anymore - but truly relieved that I did it.  I committed to something that would make me better, make me serve my purpose - whatever it happened to be during those 40 days.

Today, I knew when I saw Terri's post linking to 40 Bags in 40 Days, that my purpose for this Lent was to clean up the clutter.  Yes, I am a confessed clutterbug.  This is not news to those of you who know me.  I have fought against it my ENTIRE LIFE.  And now, my children are also clutter-makers and clutter-keepers.  But my purpose is not just to live in a less-cluttered house, but to remove all the STUFF.  The STUFF that gets in the way of living.  The STUFF that has to be cleaned around, put away, dug through to find the swim goggles for practice or the instructions for replacing the garage door opener battery... all that STUFF in my life takes away time, energy and focus from living and loving and enjoying the PEOPLE in my life.  My kind and brilliant husband.  My precious and hilarious children.  My comforting and encouraging friends.  My supportive and always-there family.

So - there you have it.  My Lenten project.  I'm fasting from STUFF.  Not only do I make the pledge to a bag a day for 40 days, but I also pledge to not bring in any more STUFF that isn't necessary.

I already have an area.  I'm starting today.  Here is what it looks like:
My bookshelves & CD/DVD/Game Corner
AKA: where everything we don't use goes to die...

Check back for my progress, I am super excited; I am ridiculously nervous, but excited.  Hope to update every day or two!  And, thanks for reading.  I wish you a transformative Lenten season. 

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